Distance Trio Leads New Mexico At Mt. SAC Relays
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  04/18/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

April 18, 2004

WALNUT, Calif. - Matt Gonzales's victory in the open section of the men's 5,000-meter race was the highlight of a successful trip to the elite Mt. SAC Relays for the University of New Mexico men's and women's track and field teams this weekend. Gonzales and teammate Cameron Clarke both recorded NCAA regional qualifying times in the 5,000, while Ben Ortega surpassed the national provisional qualifying standard in the 10,000.

Gonzales, a 10,000-meter All-American last year, edged Stanford's Ryan Hall by 0.48 seconds to secure his place in the field of the NCAA Midwest Region Championships in College Station, Texas later this spring. The Santa Fe native crossed the finish line with a time of 13:44.52 to lower his previous best in the event, set last year at the Mt. SAC Relays, by nearly four seconds. Gonzales was one of the Midwest Region's top-ranked 5K runners last year, but instead opted to run the 1,500, which he won in impressive fashion. This spring, head coach Matt Henry said Gonzales will attempt to qualify for the national championship meet in the 5,000 alone.

Clarke, meanwhile, set a big personal record in the event, crossing the line in 14:13.90 (37th overall) to surpass the regional qualifying time by nearly five seconds. Normally a middle distance runner, Clarke secured his place at the regional championships for the first time in his career and shattered his previous best in the 5,000 by 30 seconds. Nick Martinez and Sean Flaherty also competed in the race, finishing 43rd (14:44.46) and 44th (14:45.70), respectively.

Also on the opening day of competition, Ortega clocked a time of 29:36.66 in his first 10,000-meter race of the year to put himself in contention for a berth in the NCAA Championship field. The Taos native finished 21st in the invitational section of the race and eclipsed the provisional standard in the event for the third time in his career. Ortega, who redshirted the 2003 outdoor season, ran a personal best time of 29:11.67 in 2002, but was not selected for the national meet.

In other men's action, senior Chris Garofola notched a PR in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing fourth in his heat and 16th overall with a time of 14.65. Garofola also took fifth in his heat (31st overall) of the 400-meter hurdles, recording a time of 53.67. Senior Jason Barkemyer, meanwhile, was 11th in the open discus section with a mark of 160-06. The results of Barkemeyer's effort in the open section of the shot put were not available at the time of publication.

Junior Amanda Barnes enjoyed her best day in the shot put on Sunday morning, notching a mark of 48-10.75 to finish fifth in the top open section of the event. Barnes' mark was over four inches beyond her previous best, set last year in her victory at the Mountain West Conference Championships, and increased her own school record and regional qualifying mark.

Sophomore Timmie Murphy paced the women on the track with a stellar performance in the 5,000. Murphy lowered her personal record by over a minute, crossing the line with a time of 17:13.59, 17 seconds shy of the regional qualifying standard.

Fellow sophomore Kimilia Davis took fourth in her heat and 25th overall with a time of 56.85, while junior Jacquelyne Gallegos recorded a time of 4:41.33 (81st overall) in the 1,500. Jamie Fishencord, meanwhile, surpassed the regional qualifying mark in the hammer throw for the third time this year, finishing ninth overall in the open section of the event with a toss of 173-11.

New Mexico returns to action next weekend when a full squad of Lobos travel to sunny San Diego for the two-day UCSD Invitational, April 23-24.